MANILA, Philippines—At least 8,000 members of the United Methodist Church (UMC) are expected to attend Friday what retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno describes as “the biggest gathering of UMC members since the denomination’s centennial anniversary celebration in 1998.”
Puno, one of the most prominent members of the UMC, said thousands of United Methodists from all over the country will troop to the Philsports Arena (Ultra) in Pasig City for the laity-led Grand Revival Worship Celebration.
Puno said his optimism was based on the enthusiasm he saw among members in UMC local churches he visited in the various areas, incuding Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Cavite and Metro Manila.
“The last time the United Methodists in the country held a church-wide event was 14 years ago,” Puno told participants of the Episcopal Candidates’ Forum sponsored by the Fairview UMC on November 10. “It is about time to hold another.”
He dismissed claims that the UMC, which has been going through division and alleged corruption in high places, is dying.
“Our church is far from being dead,” he said. “However, some describe the UMC as ‘a sleeping giant.’”
Puno said the Grand Revival on Friday will “awaken the sleeping giant.”
He also said the timing is most appropriate since the denomination will elect a new set of bishops two weeks after the gathering. The election of bishops will be held during the Philippine Central Conference on December 12-14 in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
Speaking before the forum’s participants that included 16 of the 26 candidates for bishops of the episcopal areas of Manila, Baguio and Davao, Puno said the new bishops, whoever they may be, must heal “our wounded church” by conducting more revival activities.
The former chief justice also invited the candidates to attend the event in Ultra, “so that we can pray for your anointment.”
Puno, who is the main speaker of the “Revive UMC” event, said the United Methodists must follow the footsteps of the founder of their church, the Rev. John Wesley, who was “one of the greatest revivalists of all time.”
The Grand Revival will also feature two foreign speakers—American preacher Scott Kelso and Singapore-based Methodist minister Malcolm TH Tan.
Kelso, author of the book, “Ice on Fire: A New Day for the 21st Century Church,” and a former president of the Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, will talk about “praying for healing and unity,” while Tan will discuss “scriptural holiness.”
A 500-voice choir to be conducted by singer-songwriter Arnel de Pano will perform during the revival, which will start at 8 a.m. and last up to 4:30 p.m.